This story was written for the Los Angeles Moth theme: Discovery, but the name draw is a lottery and I was not drawn so did not get a chance to perform it, and it is therefore being shared here.
I think I have always appeared to the world around me as someone who had a lot of courage. But in all honesty, my life has always felt like a rolling ball of snow that started at the top of a mountain and just kept going down, gathering speed and mass as it rolled rolled rolled. I felt like I was always just holding on, and life was doing its thing. I didn’t really feel like an active member to be totally honest, and I was always mildly surprised when things worked out. I would just say YES and see what happened.
What does that mean? Why do I feel that way? I’ve lived all over the world, and I move to new countries fairly easily. I take big leaps of faith in my career. But it felt like that was pre-determined for me. My parents started it all, we moved around Asia in the 90’s and early 2000’s following my dads job as an architect.
Even when I moved to Canada with no job at 22 and then LA with no job and no visa at 28, I always felt like, it wasn’t brave what I was doing, it was just a legacy. I was just following the only path I knew and I would figure it out. Our family motto always seemed to be: Leap, and the net will appear.
People would always say: “I could never do what you do You’re so brave” and I would honestly look around for this girl they were describing because, lets be honest, at times, I’ve cried at home in my bathtub with a five dollar block of orange cheese from Smart and Final.
Packing shit up and leaving isn’t brave. Sticking it out and building something is brave. Leaving is easy.
I’ve been trying to take on a more active role in my own life, to discover who I really am. In my last relationship, which ended just after I moved to LA, I would make suggestions, and my ex would run with them. He is the reason we went on so many last minute, crazy exotic trips. He’s the reason I actually got on the plane and came to California.
When he left, I felt a sudden vacuum of power. I’d been handing over the reigns of my existence to other people, pretty much my whole life.
So I decided I needed to do more things for me, and this whole year I’ve been on a discovery of self. What do I like, what don’t I like, what did I pretend to like because I just kept saying yes? Am I brave or meek? Not what does everyone THINK I am. But, What am I?
This past weekend, I had an amazing experience at a place called ‘Camp No Counsellors’, an adult summer camp that is all you can eat, all you can drink and all you can hookup for six hundred and fifty dollars.
I found out about it from my friend Hailey 2 weeks ago when we were 4 free glasses of wine deep at a wine tasting. And of course I just said yes. And we went.
Camp No Counsellers is structured unstructured (because adults are dicks and we all have opinions). There were lots of optional fun activities, or you could sit by the pool and get fucking drunk on a blow up flamingo.
I don’t know what I like anymore, so I just signed up for everything and rotated through all the activities making friends.
I was vaguely concerned about the giant high ropes course which dominated the middle part of the grounds, but my friend was so encouraging and was like “of course you have to do it” so I said YES and I guess I’d figure it out or something.
We went to the ropes course finally, and my nerves grew and grew as I watched others go. Finally it was my turn and I got about 10 feet off the ground before I froze. I honestly can only describe the feeling as I think all of the blood rushed into my shoulders and knees and then became sand.
So the thing about the ropes course was there were different levels, I was going for the “easy” one, and there were people all around me doing insane, horrifyingly scary things, much much higher up than me.
Where the ropes course was at camp was right in the middle of a bunch of stuff (volley ball, basketball and the pool) so lots of people would watch the ropes course as a kind of entertainment.
So I’m frozen on this pole, hanging onto some small metal studs for dear life, and my friend was cheering and screaming encouragements at me – (for me to keep going,) and was making so much noise that everyone at the other activities stopped what they were doing and started cheering for me too. And I’m frozen up there thinking (illogically but your brain tricks you) that I am going to die. I’m going to die in front of all these people, and my ex is never going to know that I still love him, and that I’m trying to live my own life. And my parents, I don’t call them enough, and is my Dad going to be okay driving on the wrong side of the road? And the foreign exchange is so bad right now, my mums going to get fucked as she works in Thailand and gets paid in Thai baht. She’s going to be forced to get me some fugly American coffin and she’s only going to able to afford an Elvis impersonator to sing and everyones going to be like: Why Elvis?
But then. That voice inside me. The one that we all have, says: Okay Paris. You let someone else convince to get up here. So now, we’re going to finish this and we are going to get back down on the ground. Okay?
Shaking from head to toe, I made it slowly across that rope bridge high up in the air, and I was lowered down (it felt like hours but it was probably seconds). When I was safely on the ground I was swarmed by the most supportive group of people I didn’t even know. Complete strangers were so proud of me they were screaming my name. I have never been so proud of myself. And you know what, the next day I did another ropes thing AND I climbed a 30 ft tree to go zip lining. My friend Hailey didn’t even go. I just went by myself.
And the cherry on that Sunday, was that I won Miss Congeniality, out of 250 people, with only 6 awards given out, I freaking won an award for friendliness. Me, the girl who screamed FUUUUUUUUCCCCCCK through camp as I zip lined down.
But you know what, as I was whizzing over the trees at camp, at what felt like 1000km an hour but was probably more like five, I suddenly discovered something about myself that had never occurred to me. Leap and the net will appear. I did have fucking courage, and I am brave. It just took me literally climbing twenty feet out of my comfort zone to realize.